REVEALED: How Former Super Eagles Coach, Joe Erico Died …Why He Cursed Nigeria Football
On Thursday, January 22nd, the news of the death of former Super Eagles Goalkeeper trainer, Joseph Erico broke with the former player said to have died at the age of 71.
However, facts have emerged on how the man nicknamed ‘Jogo Bonito’ died after three-day illness.
Mosunmola Eric, the wife of former Super Eagles goalkeeper and assistant coach Joe Erico, said her husband was ill for three days and complained of body pains before his death.
The widow said she found her husband dead when she tried to wake him up on Thursday morning, per report
“He was ill for about three days and we took him to the hospital, he complained of body pain. He was okay and we came back home. But just yesterday (Wednesday) night, he started feeling somehow and he later slept. I tried to wake him up this morning but he was stone dead,” Mosunmola said.
However, Joe Erico passed away at age 72.
He was nicknamed ‘Erico’ by ardent NEPA FC fans while he was the team’s goalkeeper.
He was an apostle of ‘Jogo Bonito’ – an aesthetic football philosophy that is based on the tip-tap playing pattern similar to that of Brazilian Samba.
He made Julius Berger FC play this brand of football when the team mesmerized the domestic league scene in the early 1990s with Erico in charge as head coach.
Erico was a goalkeeper for Electricity Connectors of Nigeria (ECN) and for Green Eagle of Nigeria in his playing days.
He was also in the Green Eagles team that placed third at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Ethiopia.
His Curse on Nigeria Football
Joe Erico, Shuaibu Amodu and Stephen Keshi (All are now late) were the best hands Nigeria had in the early 2000s in Nigeria football as they qualified the country to the 2002 World Cup at a time Nigeria’s qualification was in serious jeopardy.
The trio gave Nigeria bronze at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali as well as as booking the ticket for the year’s World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
However, after their feat in Mali, the hey were accused of taking bribes which they denied vehemently leading to their resignations. However, they were owed by the Nigeria Football Federation and these injustices led Joe Erico to swear and place a curse on Nigeria football.
“I swore for them in the NFA or NFF when we came back from Mali 2002 African Nations Cup. They treated all of us: Shuaibu Amodu, Stephen Keshi and myself just anyhow. What basically happened was that, I was very angry at the time. So I went back home, stripped naked and put a curse on Nigeria football and they will know no peace until I am paid my money,”
Those were the words of former Green Eagles goalkeeper and assistant coach, Joe Erico, in his last interview with The Guardian.
The former assistant coach of the Super Eagles and respected nurturer of talents was said to have complained of body pain and was treated for malaria, only to be found dead in his bed at dawn on Thursday.
Erico, popularly known as Jogo Bonito, belonged to the cast of the very best goalkeepers in the history of Nigeria’s senior team, and served at the same period as the revered Emmanuel Okala and Eyo Essien.
In 2002, Erico, Keshi and Amodu were brought in to do a rescue job for Nigeria as the ship to the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals tottered badly under Dutchman Johannes Bonfrere.
With three matches left in the campaign, and a must-win mandate for all, the trio got the job done and qualified Nigeria for Korea/Japan.
They also led the team to a bronze-medal finish at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Mali early 2002. They were sacked soon on arrival from Mali. His death yesterday morning means all members of that historic triumvirate have now passed on. The duo of Keshi and Amodu had passed on in 2016.
Sadly, Erico never got his full reward for the part he played at Mali 2002 Nations Cup and the qualification to the World Cup in Korea/Japan. He was always in agony, whenever he spoke on issue concerning Nigeria football.
Erico claimed in his last interview with The Guardian that he had placed a curse on Nigeria football, hence the cycle of crisis. “The NFA or NFF will continue to swim in crisis until I am paid the salary and allowances owed me by the federation,” he said.
Born Joseph Bassey Eric in the Odukpani local government area in what is today known as Cross River State, Erico made his debut for then Green Eagles in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Zambia in Lagos in July 1973 (which Nigeria won 3-2), and then kept goal in all of Nigeria’s six matches at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Ethiopia, where the Eagles finished third – the first time Nigeria would win a medal at the AFCON.
Erico was also in goal in all of Nigeria’s pre-tournament friendlies against Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania just before the team flew to Ethiopia.